Understanding Ryan: How I Came to Know the Congressman I Now Call Paul

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A few days before Mitt Romney called to ask Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan to serve as his running mate, Ryan took a call from me to talk about one of his biggest rivals for the job: Ohio Senator Rob Portman. The two are old friends—Ryan nicknamed Portman “Roberto”, and Portman calls Ryan “Pablo.” And while Ryan refused to talk about his own chances for the VP slot, it was clear he had been thinking about the job in his characteristically systematic way.

As a first principle, Ryan said, he believed a Vice President should be a statesman. Portman, he said, had those skills.

“I define statesman with four principles, four criteria. No. 1, does he have a bedrock of principles? Absolutely. No. 2, does he have a moral compass? Of course. Three, does he have a vision for the country? Yes. Four, does he possess the skills, the aptitude, the leadership to build a consensus to implement and execute that vision?”

For those of us who have covered Ryan over the years on Capitol Hill, such standards-based, logical talk has become the Congressman’s hallmark. The attributes by which he measured Portman’s preparation for the job now may be the ones by which he is judged.

(PHOTOS: Paul Ryan’s Life and Career in Photos)

The first time a colleague flagged Ryan to me was in 2005. Ryan was just starting his fourth term and had made a name for himself as a smart legislator on the Ways & Means Committee, the top tax-writing panel in the House. The media would stake out the Ways & Means weekly lunches in H-137 on the first floor of the Capitol building and the members would chat with us on their way in and out. I quickly learned Ryan was the go-to person for a fiscal conservative quote – a Republican disgusted with his own party’s profligate spending who not only lambasted the President but also voted against every omnibus appropriations bill.

Over the next few years, it became clear Ryan was more than a Club for Growth, anti-tax conservative. He was an ideologue and proud of it. During a 2005 mark-up of legislation overhauling the nation’s defined benefit pensions, which the government insures, Ryan urged his GOP colleagues to do better to protect American taxpayers. He was the only Republican on the committee to vote against the bill. Ryan was about seven years ahead of the Tea Party in that regard. It was the dire situation with defined benefit pensions – potentially putting the government on the hook for trillions in debt despite the overhaul Republicans had passed just two years prior – that Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson used to ultimately convince Congress to pass the bank bailout in the fall of 2008.

(PHOTOS: Political Pictures of the Week, Aug. 4-10)

Some of the media’s generally positive reaction to his selection as Romney’s running mate can be explained by how Ryan carried himself on the Hill. While Ryan was always quick with a quote, he didn’t aggressively promote himself in the press like some of his colleagues did. He was low key and incredibly wonky – even in comparison to the staffers who actually make things run on Capitol Hill. Ryan once told me he liked to talk to no one so much as actuaries. Much of his spare time was spent huddling with economists and think tank budget geeks. And he was non-discriminatory in his intellectualism, as prone to inviting a Democratic fiscal expert over for a diet Coke as he would one from the libertarian Cato Institute.

A former staffer himself, Ryan also insisted that everyone – press included – call him Paul. I resisted this until I spent a day following him around the Racine County fair in his district. At the end of the day there was a goat-milking contest in which Ryan traditionally participated—and lost. “The beauty queens – all former milk maids – always win,” Ryan lamented. Ever the perfectionist, Ryan had been honing his goat milking skills over the years and he drafted his udder strategy for me on a napkin over a corn dog lunch. He came in fourth that year, but Ryan gamely took photos with the beauty queens and vowed revenge next year. It’s hard not to call a man you’ve debated goat udders with by his first name.

(MORE: Inside the VP Pick: How Romney Decided On Ryan – and Kept the Secret)

Ryan came into his own on Capitol Hill around the time conservative South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint sparked the first big spending backlash of recent years by attacking the Bridge to Nowhere in 2005: it is as a deficit hawk that Ryan would truly make his name three years later. He told me that he’d been mulling the 2008 plan that would eventually become his “Road Map for America’s Future” for years. But it wasn’t until he became the top Republican on the House Budget Committee after the 2006 election that he had the power to get the Congressional Budget Office to crunch his numbers.

He spent much of 2007 exchanging drafts with the CBO before he rolled out his plan in 2008. Republican leaders took to the plan the way a frail invalid might ride a rollercoaster: thrilled, but also terrified the ride might kill them. Despite taking on every sacred cow in the pasture, Ryan’s Road Map became a signature issue for Tea Party candidates in 2010.

Ryan admits his view of the world has been myopic at times, usually bent through a budget lens. He’s not likely to win over the national security hawks or social conservatives. But in a Tea Party era, Ryan inspires enthusiasm and all but dares Democrats to take the low road. As Ryan told me in 2010 about his Road Map:  “I really sincerely hoped that a few other people from Congress from both parties would start throwing their plans out there and then we’d get into the business of debating these things. But, unfortunately, we’re going to have to go through another round of turning these things into third rails and political weapons. What I’m trying to do is change the nature of the third rail from, ‘Touch this program and you die,’ to, ‘Fail to fix the problem and you die politically.’” Romney is about to put this theory to the test.

Ryan always swore he had his eyes on one goal: chairmanship of the tax-writing Ways & Means Committee. It’s why he turned down becoming Bush’s budget director in 2005 and why he’s resisted calls to run for Senate or for House leadership. He always talked about how his father, grandfather and great-grandfather had all died young, of heart disease and how he felt he had precious little time with his own children. He didn’t want to squander it with “delusions of grandeur” or other “distractions.” He said he had a mission to balance the budget, and that was a noble enough goal. Now he’s betting his place on the GOP ticket will get him there faster.

MORE: The Romney-Ryan Ticket Unveiled in Virginia

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Benevolent Lawyer
Benevolent Lawyer

I think TIME is killing us with the over drive on Veep news. We will be voting for the head of the ticket, and not his standby or understudy.

Anyway, for my fellow patriots who love America, we seekers of the truth who have refused to be swayed by the lies on the Left or Right. Here is some more information. It is better to vote Green than to vote a lie or a dream.

The Boston Globe business columnist Steve Baily wrote that “there

are 40,000 fewer people in the workforce than when Romney took over.” 

This view was echoed by the Boston Herald’s business columnist, Bret

Arends, who wrote,

“During the four years Mitt Romney was governor of Massachusetts, it

had the second worst jobs record of any state in America…it wasn’t a

regional issue. The rest of New England created nearly 200,000 jobs.”

Another way to judge a state’s economy is to look at its Gross State Product

and these statistics are kept by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Between 2001-2005, the percent GSP increase for Massachusetts was an

anemic 8.44%, one of the lowest five-years increases in the country –

44th out of 50 states.

We’ll let labor market economist Andrew Sum summarize: “as a strict

labor market economist looking at the record, Massachusetts did every

poorly during the Romney years…on every measure  you’ve got, the state

was a substantial under-performer.”

Romney had a horrible record of creating jobs while governor of

Massachusetts.  According to Boston Herald business reporter Bret

Arends, only one state in the entire country was worse at creating jobs

while Romney was in office....

“During the four years Mitt Romney was governor of Massachusetts, it had the second worst jobs record of any state in America…it wasn’t a regional issue. The rest of New England created nearly 200,000 jobs.”

____Job growth was devastated by Romney’s policies. The Massachusetts

Taxpayer Foundation says that under Romney, “job growth has been

anemic.”. According to the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, the

unemployment rate was 5.2% when he assumed the governorship and 5.3% by

the end of his term, a figure significantly higher than the national

average at the time of 4.6% (AND THOSE FIGURES WERE FROM A GOOD ECONOMIC

TIME, NATIONALLY).

But Romney’s unemployment figures are, in reality, 2-3 points higher than what they appear because Massachusetts was RANKED SECOND IN THE NATION FOR THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE GOING TO LOOK FOR WORK ELSEWHERE.

Since they’re no longer residents, they weren’t counted in the employment statistics.

According to job creation experts Andrew Sum and Joseph McLaughlin of

Northeastern University, manufacturing employment during the Romney

years “declined by 14%, the third worse record in the country.” 

LiberalLies2012
LiberalLies2012

What was the unemployment in the US during the Romney years?

Benevolent Lawyer
Benevolent Lawyer

 LiberalLiar, you are a DUNCE .  I have explained GSP to your blunt pedestrian mind below... 

They WERE  40,000

fewer people in the workforce than when Romney took over.”  The Boston

Herald’s business columnist, Bret Arends, who wrote, of Romney and job

creation,

“During the four years Mitt Romney was governor of Massachusetts, it had the

second worst jobs record of any state in America…it wasn’t a regional issue.

The rest of New England created nearly 200,000 jobs.”

AND  what does Ryan care, like Romney he is worth over 50 million dollars, so that makes it easier to be an ideologue and say the middle class and poor want handouts.

Liberalliar--- Gross state product (GSP), or gross regional product (GRP), is a measurement of the economic output of a STATE OR PROVINCE.

 

IT IS THE SUM OF ALL VALUE ADDED BY INDUSTRIES WITHIN THE STATE AND SERVES AS A COUNTERPART TO GDP-- You rabid hobo. So YES IT COUNTS, YOU NEANDERTHAL!!!!

 

And in MA Between 2001-2005, the percent GSP increase for Massachusetts was an anemic 8.44%, one of the lowest five-years increases in the country – MA was ranked  FORTY FOURTH OUT OF FIFTY STATES.

As I explained to your fevered mind diseased with delusions of  "Romney is the Messiah" insanity-----

During the four years Mitt Romney was governor of

Massachusetts, it had the SECOND worst jobs record of any state in

America…it wasn’t a regional issue. The rest of New England created

nearly 200,000 jobs.

The Massachusetts

Taxpayer Foundation says that under Romney, “job growth has been anemic.”.

According to the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate was

5.2% when he assumed the governorship---But Romney’s unemployment

figures are, in reality, 2-3 points higher than what they appear because Massachusetts was RANKED SECOND IN THE NATION FOR THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE GOING TO

LOOK FOR WORK ELSEWHERE.

According to job creation experts Andrew Sum and Joseph McLaughlin of

Northeastern University, manufacturing employment during the Romney years

“declined by 14%, the third worse record in the country.” 

You can deny the facts. But you have proof that Romney devastated MA.  If you score 60% in an exam and the average score is 99%, guess what, you performed woefully. That is what Romney scored relative to the NATIONAL ECONOMY at the time he was governor.

You should not vote. Your fevered mind is incapable of making any reasoned analysis. You are like a n empty cult follower of a Romney you have made up in your mind.

Crazy LOON!!!! JEESH!!  

Benevolent Lawyer
Benevolent Lawyer

 The economy was good NATIONALLY but Romney ran us into the ground in OUR STATE. I can assure you that if he had ignored the polls and run a second time, he would have lost in a LANDSLIDE!!

This is the same Romney, you praise like a LUNATIC over Obama. You are no better than the Left wing Cuckoo Clocks. Meanwhile, we have first hand experience of the NONSENSE he did in our state.

You never did answer about how Romney's venture capitalist experience translated into governance.  Since he has a record in MA that makes Obama look like MICHAEL PHELPS (I am sure the far Left wing sees Obama in Phelps) -- this is why he cannot run on it.

You can see that our  Gross State Product in MA WAS HORRIFIC according to  the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. 

Between 2001-2005, the percent GSP increase for Massachusetts was an anemic 8.44%, one of the lowest five-years increases in the country  44th out of 50 states.

We’ll let labor market economist Andrew Sum summarize: “as a strict labor market economist looking at the record, Massachusetts did every poorly during the Romney years…on every measure  you’ve got, the state was a substantial under-performer.”

If you do not want Obama to complete a 2nd term stop fooling your self into the LIE that Romney will do better. His record says otherwise.

No true patriot believes the nonsense that Romney can do better. It just does NOT add up.  Under Romney our state was raked through the coals.  He failed to show us the SO CALLED expertise he is claiming again!!!!

Romney could not handle MA but he will turn water into wine Nationally??? HE WILL NOTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT!!!!

 Obama has done far BETTER than Romney ever did for us.  That by no means says that he could not have done better-- I know for fact that there are MANYYYY things he could have done better.  BUT FOR GOODNESS SAKE STOP YOUR DISINGENUOUS MARKETING OF ONE OF THE MOST INEPT GOVERNORS IN THE HISTORY OF OUR COMMONWEALTH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  If it is a competition between him and Obama, in terms of dexterity, based on our experience in MA, Obama WINS. 

 

You are one of the most wacky so called Conservatives I have run into on this site.  Thank God for TRUE patriots and Swing voters!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Sheeesh!!!

LiberalLies2012
LiberalLies2012

"Wacky" is spouting pure Bullcrap with nothing what-so-ever to back up your claims. You can't even answer my question. I'll answer it. Unemployment was 5.3 percent nationally during the Romney years. MA had a rate BELOW the national at 4.7 percent.

GSP means nothing and is not an indicator of the viability of a State. What does matter is how far in debt the State is. MA has one of the highest living standards in the country. Schools are A rated. Hospitals A rated. Some of the best colleges in the world.

As compared to California, which is nearing bankruptcy, MA is very healthy. If Romney did the job you allege, MA would be on CA's heels ready to go under.

Take your BULLCRAP and peddle it elsewhere. You are not Conservative, and nothing more than a libel on supporting the worst President in this country's history.

gingerpye
gingerpye

This is the first I had read that Ryan's grandfather and great grandfather died early from heart disease in addition to his father. That is not a very reassuring family history. I wonder if Ryan will release his medical records? 

apr2563
apr2563

Ryan:  What a guy!

1.  Used insider information for stock trades.

http://www.slate.com/blogs/mon...

2.  Only passed 2 bills in long career in House.  Named a PO and changed tax on arrows.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/...

3. Just for you Amy, the snookee

What I do know is that anyone who believes in Ryan’s carefully cultivated image as a brave, honest policy wonk has been snookered. Mark Thoma reviews selected pieces I’ve written about Ryan; he is, in fact, a big fraud, who doesn’t care at all about fiscal responsibility, and whose policy proposals are sloppy as well as dishonest. Of course, this means that he’ll fit in to the Romney campaign just fine.
http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c...

The remarkable thing is that he and his allies have managed to convince so much of the press to buy into an image that isn’t remotely supported by his actual ideas.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/...

LiberalLies2012
LiberalLies2012

This from the Slate source you are using. Seems they have retracted their claim. It now reads.....

As Brad DeLong writes, for one reason or another Ryan did quite a lot of trading of individual bank stocks in 2008 so the timing of this particularly transaction isn't particularly noteworthy when put in that context. For posterity's sake the original item is below now in strikethrough.

What that means is Ryan did NOTHING wrong. The source Slate used is total bullcrap. No insider trading, o nothing.

You should apologize for your slander of a very good man.

LiberalLies2012
LiberalLies2012

Yes apr2563, how many bills did Ryan cosponsor? How many has the longest serving Rep, Dingle pass in comparison?

Ivy_B
Ivy_B

Thanks for that compilation, apr!

theoldkathy
theoldkathy

Reince Priebus just saying that Barack Obama has "blood on his hands" about medicare.  Oh good.  And I was worried about the media. 

The thing we're forgetting in this fight is that the Republicans have demonstrated that they'll lie about anything and everything, and will end up accusing Obama of everything they're guilty of.  And they've got a swimming pool of money to spend on the lies.

53underscore3
53underscore3

You can see the Citizens' United money flow as our own GOP trolls are now on a rampage to disrupt and disinform.

bobell
bobell

Hey, Jay.  In case you're still paying attention to comments ...

 

Please read this:

 

http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c...

 

I don't care if Paul Ryan is a cuddly as a teddy bear.  You and your colleagues are being played for fools.

filmnoia
filmnoia

While JNS and some other members of the MSM like to tell us about the "likeability"  of their Paul, the relentless Obama attacks on the Ryan budget plan supported by Willard will intensify.  After the conventions the polls will start to firm up, and when the MSM sees that their Paulie isn't trusted, they will, like other junior high students in the middle of a class president election, turn against him. Fox is excluded, of course.

Otto Man
Otto Man

 I love how the Romney spokesman insists it's because people just haven't gotten to know Ryan yet.  Because Palin was a household name when McCain picked her?

Anyway, like Romney, the more people get to know Ryan, the less they'll think of him.

ERenger
ERenger

Sure, the initial reaction is kind of unfavorable, but most people don't yet know the details of how Ryan is going to do away with Medicare and give seniors vouchers for P90X. 

Numbers should pick up after that. 

ERenger
ERenger

There is something disconcerting about the mental image of JNS chowing down on a corn dog while Ryan shows her his teat-handling technique. 

At least we know from his performance in the goat milking contest that he is an udder disaster. 

(BTW, I like JNS and don't doubt her professionalism at all, but this was too fun to pass up.) 

sacredh
sacredh

Out of respect for JNS, I respectfully keep my mouth shut and go take a shower.

deconstructiva
deconstructiva

That image of Michele Bachmann chowing down on a corn dog last year is one you can never forget.

sacredh
sacredh

The term "work it" came to mind.

ERenger
ERenger

That's exactly what came to mind when she mentioned the corn dog. 

cristoforo
cristoforo

Re: Jay Newton-Small on Paul Ryan, August 13, 2012

No, no, no, no, NO!  Logical and Any Randy-thinking does not compute.  Fiscal conservative differs from [Anti-]Social Darwinist Libertarian extremist.  DUH!

"Paul" may be charming.  A family-values guy.  Smart, or at least educated--Jesuits (or, perhaps, a Kundalini yoga master?) somewhere in his academic woodpile I suspect if he can reconcile the Russian lady and the Christian Gospel.  But conservative?  Hard-LEE!

There is a book, my dear girl, where the meaning of words can be ascertained.  We old folks call these books dictionaries--you can look it up.  They differ from spellcheckers.  A conservative conserves.  (Redundant, I know.)  One who advocates overturning the existing structure is neither conservative nor liberal.  He is a radical, extremist, revolutionary.  Not, need I remind you, always a bad thing, though it the present circumstance considerably pre-mature as, indeed, are those who find themselves in agreement with the gentleman from Wisconsin.  Too much dairy, I suspect.  Clots the synapses.

BTW, love, a political reporter should never--NEVER--be on a first name basis with anyone she covers.  NEVER!

cristoforo
cristoforo

Re: Jay Newton-Small on Paul Ryan, August 13, 2012

No, no, no, no, NO!  Logical and Any Randy-thinking does not compute.  Fiscal conservative differs from [Anti-]Social Darwinist Libertarian extremist.  DUH!

"Paul" may be charming.  A family-values guy.  Smart, or at least educated--Jesuits (or, perhaps, a Kundalini yoga master?) somewhere in his academic woodpile I suspect if he can reconcile the Russian lady and the Christian Gospel.  But conservative?  Hard-LEE!

There is a book, my dear girl, where the meaning of words can be ascertained.  We old folks call these books dictionaries--you can look it up.  They differ from spellcheckers.  A conservative conserves.  (Redundant, I know.)  One who advocates overturning the existing structure is neither conservative nor liberal.  He is a radical, extremist, revolutionary.  Not, need I remind you, always a bad thing, though in the present circumstance considerably pre-mature as, indeed, are those who find themselves in agreement with the gentleman from Wisconsin.  Too much dairy, I suspect.  Clots the synapses.

BTW, love, a political reporter should never--NEVER--be on a first name basis with anyone she covers.  NEVER!

deconstructiva
deconstructiva

"There is a book, my dear girl, where the meaning of words can be ascertained.  We old folks call these books dictionaries--you can look it up.".

.

Do decide please whether you wish to engage in condescension and bitter snark OR you wish to use the art of rhetoric to persuade JNS to change her ways. The two aren't compatible.

sacredh
sacredh

Maybe I'm just a cynic, but I often feel that the writers at TIME throw things out here because they KNOW we'll say the things they won't. Say something nice about someone that you know is going to start exactly the opposite reaction. Before they stopped inviting me to family reunions, I'd go sit with relatives that couldn't stand someone else and say things like "Aunt Bertha is such a great cook and her house always looks so nice". Then they'd start with "That b1tch never cooked a decent meal in her life" and "Why do you think she never invites anybody inside?".

.

I'd throw out a faux compliment and watch them tear her to shreds.

gingerpye
gingerpye

deconstructiva, I think your liking for Jay is clouding your judgment on this piece. Jay deserves a little condescension for this.

cristoforo
cristoforo

See Gingrich on use of words in political discourse, friend.

filmnoia
filmnoia

OK, OK, so he condescends a bit. Are you really naive enough to think that anything said on this blog is going to change a reporter's opinion? For the next few weeks much of the press will be wearing their kneepads when reporting on Ryan. After Labor Day will be when we can judge whether  some reporters, like JNS, stop with the puff pieces and actually take the gloves off and do their job.

Let's get back to basics - Willard , we want 12 years of tax returns.

Benevolent Lawyer
Benevolent Lawyer

 TIME Magazine is becoming almost as RED as my State.  I blame Halperin for this. The others were in the middle and now they are swinging Right. 

deconstructiva
deconstructiva

Yeah, we don't have much success persuading the reporters here, do we? It's worth trying, and JNS is one of the few who will read the comments regularly (as will Alex). Stuart Zechman has  written long, compelling arguments to Joe Klein and Kate Pickert that are filled with info. and organized into an almost legal argument style format, something to admire. Then again, he still has to do this with them, which proves your point, alas.

cristoforo
cristoforo

And, while we are at it, how many years of tax returns did the Willard ask Paul for?

Pnnto
Pnnto

"What Ryan is good at is exploiting the willful gullibility of the Beltway media, using a soft-focus style to play into their desire to have a conservative wonk they can say nice things about. And apparently the trick still works"

http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c...

Paul Dirks
Paul Dirks

How a tax cutter can also manage to be a deficit hawk:

Doublethink, a word coined by George Orwell in the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, describes the act of simultaneously accepting two mutually contradictory beliefs as correct, often in distinct social contexts.[1] It is related to, but distinct from, hypocrisy and neutrality. Its opposite is cognitive dissonance, where the two beliefs cause conflict in one's mind. Doublethink is an integral concept of George Orwell's dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. The word doublethink is part of Newspeak

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D...

kms123
kms123

Ryan is a good candidate for those who belong to the milionaires or billionaires club.

Coriolana Magna
Coriolana Magna

I don't want to understand such a miserable excuse for a human being. Granted he's a politician and that's the bottom of the barrel but Ryan is the ooze under the barrel.

filmnoia
filmnoia

I guess that we will have to be relegated to stenographic MSM puff pieces for the next 2-3 weeks, but Ryan can't run away from his budget proposals  anymore than Willard can from Romneycare and his days at Bain. Their cynical contempt for the memory and intelligence of the voting public is absolutely astonishing. If the public swallows this pair then we will be on the way to Third World status that much quicker.

Paul Dirks
Paul Dirks

http://www.cbsnews.com/2100-34... 

A review of data from the White House Office of Management and Budget shows that tax revenues did not consistently increase after the Bush tax cuts went into effect.

In FY 2001, tax revenue in dollars was 1,991.1 billion. For FY 2002 - the first budget of the Bush administration, which went into effect after President George W. Bush signed tax cuts into law in June 2001 - revenue dropped to 1,853.1 billion.

Bush signed two more tax cuts into law over the next two years. In FY 2003, revenue dropped further, to 1,782.3 billion - about a 10-percent reduction from two years earlier.

This drop in tax revenue occurred even as economic activity - the nation's GDP - was continually rising, according to Bureau of Economic Analysis data.

Revenues then increased for four years - from 1,880.1 billion in FY 2004 to 2,568 billion in FY 2007 - before sliding to 2,524 billion in FY 2008, and then dropping further to 2,105 billion in FY 2009 as the recession exploded.

Paul Dirks
Paul Dirks

http://www.cbsnews.com/2100-34...

A review of data from the White House Office of Management and Budget shows that tax revenues did not consistently increase after the Bush tax cuts went into effect.In FY 2001, tax revenue in dollars was $1,991.1 billion. For FY 2002 - the first budget of the Bush administration, which went into effect after President George W. Bush signed tax cuts into law in June 2001 - revenue dropped to $1,853.1 billion.Bush signed two more tax cuts into law over the next two years. In FY 2003, revenue dropped further, to $1,782.3 billion - about a 10-percent reduction from two years earlier.This drop in tax revenue occurred even as economic activity - the nation's GDP - was continually rising, according to Bureau of Economic Analysis data.Revenues then increased for four years - from $1,880.1 billion in FY 2004 to $2,568 billion in FY 2007 - before sliding to $2,524 billion in FY 2008, and then dropping further to $2,105 billion in FY 2009 as the recession exploded.

Paul Dirks
Paul Dirks

http://www.washingtonpost.com/... 

This relies on mixing up the effects of inflation, economic growth, and taxes. The normal way to measure how much revenues a given tax regime is pulling in is to look at taxes as a percentage of GDP. In 2001, taxes revenues were 19.5 percent of GDP. In 2002, they fell to 17.6 percent of GDP. In 2003, 16.2 percent of GDP. In 2004, 16.1 percent of GDP. Some of that is the 2001 recession. But at no point in Bush's presidency, and at no point since, have taxes returned to 19 percent of GDP.

Or, to put it slightly differently, if tax cuts actually increased revenues, then it would have been absurd for George W. Bush to propose tax cuts as a way of paying down the surplus. In that world, tax cuts would have made the surplus larger, and given the government even more of the people's money. We would end up in a fiscal paradox, with the government constantly trying to give back its surplus, but ending up with an even larger surplus as a result. But that's not the world we live in.